Minister: We don’t need laws to achieve gender equality

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KUCHING: Malaysia will continue to use persuasion rather than law or quotas to improve gender equality, says Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.For instance, she said there were policies to increase women’s involvement in the workplace and had at least 30% women in decision-making positions.

“For us, persuasive methods are more effective in the long run as we prefer to achieve our aims through cooperation and collaboration.“We can have laws but I see that what we are doing now through our policies and programmes are proceeding well,” she said at the International Women’s Day celebration at The Spring shopping mall here yesterday.

Rohani said efforts were ongoing to improve the percentage of women at decision-making level, particularly in the private sector.Statistics showed that the target had been achieved in the public sector, with 35.11% of decision-makers comprising women as at December last year. However, the figure was only 15.6% in the private sector.“I’m still working on getting more women to be board members and in other decision-making positions. Because of this, we have set up the 30% Club who will help to convince board members to have more women,” she said.Rohani also said she had set a target of having 55% of women in the workforce by the end of this year, up from the current 54%.“It might look like a small increase but I will work hard for it,” she said.In addition, Rohani said her ministry was taking steps to prepare the nation for an ageing population, especially among women, as 10% to 15% of Malaysians will be 60 years and above by 2030.“Malaysia will be an ageing nation by 2030, and statistics show that women live longer.

In 2014, the life expectancy for men was 72.5 years compared to 77.2 years for women.“As we go along, most probably we will have more women becoming heads of households. My ministry is taking action to make sure that women are empowered to be independent and prepared for whatever happens,” she added.

( The Star 9th March 2016 )